Once more into the bullet-hell fray we go courtesy of Paul Marrable from Flump Studios. We’ve featured some of Paul’s earlier work, including Pester and Horizon Shift, never failing to come away impressed, infuriated, but ready to dive back in for another go. That Flump’s games have become progressively more enjoyable is undeniable but, if all was said and done for the tiny English Studio, its latest work, Hyper Bounce Blast, would be considered its magnum opus and prized high above anything else it has released.
Although, visually, almost identical to Horizon Shift, Hyper Bounce Blast breaks its forebear’s mould, planting us firmly back on one plane. However, this time, as the name suggests, your diminutive craft can now bounce around the screen; not only that, but you can bounce through the air aided by wall-jumps and platforms which appear at different intervals. Whilst you are bouncing around you have the freedom to shoot in 360 degrees and you’ll also become invincible, to boot.
This new feature proves to be a stroke of genius, forcing you to not only focus on killing enemies, but to also keep yourself airborne – which becomes much more difficult as the game progresses. Whilst in the air you will also absorb any and all enemy bullets which you come into contact with, just steer clear of the laser bastards that patrol the edges of the screen, they’ll fuck your ship right up!
As is tradition with Flump’s games, there’s a handful of bastard bosses scattered throughout the enemy waves, each with their own quirk to keep you on your toes. In a nice spin on the traditional shooter formula, you’ll need to attack blue weak spots by getting airborne and bouncing into them. Expect heavy resistance, though.
Enemy waves are organised in diverse and increasingly complex patterns, often making it almost impossible to keep yourself in the air, and out of harm’s way. Shmup veterans will enjoy this added layer of difficulty, whilst the amateurs among you may feel just a little bit too challenged. Fortunately, the game features a free run mode which gives you unlimited lives, at the expense of 50% of your score every time you die. For “less-skilled” players like myself, who want to take in everything the game has to offer, this mode is a bit of a godsend.
Flump Studio’s back catalogue paints a picture of a studio that has agonized over the small details; of a developer whose obsession with the shmup genre has allowed him to progressively perfect and hone his craft. As a result, Hyper Bounce Blast feels fresh and vibrant in a genre that can often feel dull and repetitious, and I think that’s something worth shouting about.